GLENDALE — Opening its season in the Thousand Oaks Tournament over the weekend, the Crescenta Valley High boys' water polo team got a brief schooling from Ventura and Rio Mesa early Saturday.
But the key for the Falcons was taking the lesson to heart and using the experience to get better.
Crescenta Valley, which is the top-ranked team in CIF Southern Section Division V, came back to defeat El Modena, 12-5, in its last match on Saturday to secure a fifth-place finish in the tournament, which also saw Hoover notch its first win of the season in its final match on Saturday.
"I was extremely happy we got to play Ventura; they're just a fundamentally sound team," said Falcons Coach Jan Sakonju, whose team lost to the seventh-ranked team in Division I, 10-5, before falling to Division VI top-ranked Rio Mesa, 7-4, in a rematch of the Division VI semifinals. "They took advantage of our weaknesses, and the same with Rio Mesa."
Not enough variation in the offense hurt the Falcons (3-2) in those two losses, but the Falcons made the right adjustments in the fifth-pace game and triumphed behind three goals from Alan Dearman, two apiece from Louis Wojciechowski and Jack Snyder and five individual tallies from three others.
"We were relying too much on Alan [against Ventura and Rio Mesa] and the passing wasn't good," said Sakonju, who got eight saves from Rane Colvin in the win. "That was a big difference against El Modena. They came away learning from their mistakes, they made adjustments against a good team and came away with a solid victory."
Dearman led the Falcons in scoring against Ventura and Rio Mesa with two goals in each match and Colvin had nine and 11 saves in the two matches, respectively.
Hoover, which is ranked 10th in Division V, got off to a rough start on Friday with 21-3 loss to Ventura, followed by a 10-7 loss to Arroyo Grande, which is ranked ninth in Division IV.
The Tornadoes' struggles continued against Garces Memorial, 12-9, and NorCal Foothill, 11-4, on Saturday, but the team ended its day with an 11-8 win over Alemany.
Reigning All-Area Player of the Year Hakop Kaplanyan led Hoover with eight steals and was on of three Tornadoes to notch three goals along with David Pogosian and Vahe Avalyan.
"Tough games are what we're trying to do with our schedule, but our main concern is CIF" Oganesyan said. "Even though our win-loss record doesn't show success right now, I think the team really came together. It was the first extended bonding experience; they learned and grew."